After protracted negotiations with both the landlord and the City of Oakland, Actual Cafe signed a lease for its space last night. And so, it begins for real. We hope to be open in the fall of 2009, barring unforeseen battles with other public agencies, service providers, or construction delays.
This blog will chronicle our adventures as we work on this project, which we hope you'll find as exctiting as we do. Today, a bit of introduction:
The idea for Actual Cafe came from the convergence of two ideas:
1) That if you want to hang out in Oakland after about 8pm, and don't want to spend a ton of dough, your options are super narrow - there are some great bars here, but not everyone wants to spend every night out in a bar. There were some great coffee shops here once - back before Starbucks came to town, there were lots of places where a body could hang out, meet people, drink coffee, and feel at home. Those places are largely gone, replaced with some great newer places that close at dusk, and a bunch of really sterile feeling chain-copycats. We want to change that. To provide a place where people from the neighborhood can meet, gather, and experience something that's about their own city and neighborhood, while contributing to it.
And 2) That, for various reasons, Oakland has not shined. Until very recently, the potential of this really unique city has been largely untapped. There are just bunches of really interesting, creative people here. It's why we're proud to call this city our home. We're excited about the emerging golden age of Oakland. If you haven't experienced it yet, get out around town a bit - go check out the Uptown district, or Temescal, or hit the streets for Art Murmur . There's something in the air, and it's both overdue and really refreshing. In our neighborhood, there's still work to do. And rather than let other people do it, we decided to take it on ourselves. Sure, it's risky, but we're hoping our neighbors will be as excited as we are, will come support us, and will make the project the success we know it can be.
If you're in the neighborhood and see our doors open, stop by and say hello. We'll be inside for the next few months, planning, building, getting inspections, decorating, hiring staff, and about a million other things. We'd love to meet you, so don't be shy.
Will post pictures of the space shortly. More updates to come.